Brave New Girls by Mary Fan, Tina Closser, et. al.
Genre: Young Adult, Sci-Fi/Fantasy
Length: Full Length (380 pages)
Age Recommendation: 12+
Rating: 3 Stars
Review by: Astilbe
This collection of sci-fi stories features brainy young heroines who use their smarts to save the day. Girls who fix robots and construct superhero suits, hack interstellar corporations and build virtual reality platforms. Who experiment with alien chemicals and tinker with time machines. Who defy expectations and tap into their know-how—in the depths of space, or the bounds of dystopia, or the not-too-distant future—to solve despicable crimes, talk to extraterrestrials, and take down powerful villains.
All revenues from sales of this anthology will be donated a scholarship fund through the Society of Women Engineers. Let’s show the world that girls, too, can be tomorrow’s inventors, programmers, scientists, and more.
Heroes come in all shapes, sizes, and ages.
“Graveyard Shift” caught my attention immediately. The plot followed a girl named Philly who had recently been granted parole. Her reasons for breaking the law made it hard to stop reading, especially once the narrator began giving away more details about what her life was like after serving time. There were several twists that I didn’t see coming in advance. I really like being surprised by these things and will be keeping an eye out for what Ms. Giarratano comes up with in the future.
It would have been helpful to have more world building in certain cases. There were a few different times in “Courage Is….” when I wasn’t sure what was happening to Gracie, the main character, because the details of her life on a ship called the Rostom Sipan Bagdasarian were so sparse. I was fascinated by all of the things about interstellar travel that this character took for granted, I simply needed way more information about what was happening so that I could connect to Gracie emotionally before the plot thickened. This pattern repeated itself with several of the other stories as well. Had this not occurred, I would have easily given this collection a much higher rating as the concepts behind all of them were well done.
The first thing I noticed about “Flight of the Zephyr” was how resourceful Wynn was. She should have started working in the Barylian mines as soon as she turned twelve, but she was given the rare opportunity to do less dangerous work instead. I appreciated how much time the author spent describing Wynn’s world and explaining why it operated the way it did. A society as complicated as this one needs a lot of background information, so I didn’t mind taking short breaks from the main plot to piece everything together. This tale read more like a novel than a short story. It left me wishing for just more chapter after I finished it.
Overall, I’d recommend Brave New Girls to both adult and young adult readers who like the serious side of science fiction.